The interview with one of the founders of the Tartu–Moscow school, semiotician Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov (b. 1929) from August 2010, describes V. V. Ivanov’s opinions of several scholars and their work (including Evgenij Polivanov, Mikhail Bakhtin, Andrej Kolmogorov, Nikolaj Marr etc.), his relationships with his father Vsevolod Ivanov, as well as V. V. Ivanov’s views on the past and future of semiotics, with some emphasis on neurosemiotics, zoosemiotics, semiotics of culture, cybernetics, history of linguistics, study and protection (...) of small languages. The interview also deals with V. V. Ivanov’s book Even and Odd. (shrink)
The paper focuses on a particular episode in the history of semiotics in the USSR in the 1920s–1930s. At that time, an attempt to create an “integral” science was made by linguists, among whom N. Ja. Marr was one of the best-known. Several semantic laws formulated by Marr could be either reformulated in order to be applied to other disciplines or “proved” by the facts or discoveries drawn from them. Another “proof” that these linguistic theories were correct consisted (...) in the possibility of transferring the corresponding models and schemes from one field of knowledge to another: at that epoch the refusal to make a clear methodological separation between disciplines which were primarily concerned with “matter” and those that were more “spiritual” was an important tendency for scholars both in the Soviet Union and in other countries. (shrink)
The essays in Rose Lore are a rendering of global cultural history, literature, and metaphysics, woven together in a collection that will be valuable to several disciplines. The essays present numerous qualities of the rose as a symbol with broad cultural, social, and historical meanings: from astrology, to the history of Catholicism, to the new anti-female genital mutilation global movement.
This article explores the usefulness of interdisciplinarity as method of enquiry by proposing an investigation of the concept of information in the light of semiotics. This is because, as Kull, Deacon, Emmeche, Hoffmeyer and Stjernfelt state, information is an implicitly semiotic term (Biological Theory 4(2):167–173, 2009: 169), but the logical relation between semiosis and information has not been sufficiently clarified yet. Across the history of cybernetics, the concept of information undergoes an uneven development; that is, information is an (...) ‘objective’ entity in first order cybernetics, and becomes a ‘subjective’ entity in second order cybernetics. This contradiction relegates the status of information to that of a ‘true’ or ‘false’ formal logic problem. The present study proposes that a solution to this contradiction can be found in Deely’s reconfiguration of Peirce’s ‘object’ (as found in his triadic model of semiosis) into ‘thing’ and ‘object’ (Deely 1981). This ontology allows one to argue that information is neither ‘true’ nor ‘false’, and to suggest that, when considered in light of its workability, information can be both true and false, and as such it constitutes an organism’s purely objective reality (Deely 2009b). It is stated that in the process of building such a reality, information is ‘motivated’ by environmental, physiological, emotional (including past feelings and expectations) constraints which are, in turn, framed by observership. Information is therefore found in the irreducible cybersemiotic process that links at once all these conditions and that is simultaneously constrained by them. The integration of cybernetics’ and semiotics’ understanding of information shows that history is the analytical principle that grants scientific rigour to interdisciplinary investigations. As such, in any attempt to clarify its epistemological stance (e.g. the semiotic aspect of information), it is argued that biosemiotics does not need only to acknowledge semiotics (as it does), but also cybernetics in its interdisciplinary heritage. (shrink)
The International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons in 1996 was a landmark case because, for the first time in history, the legal aspect of nuclear weapons was addressed. The decision has evoked controversies regarding the Court’s conclusion, the legal status of international humanitarian law in relation to nuclear weapons, and a newly introduced concept of state survival. While much legal scholarship discusses and criticizes the legal significance of the (...) opinion, there has not been enough scholarship examining the Court’s specific choice of words and concepts that sustain its wider ideological and political position in the opinion. The paper argues that the Court’s vague and controversial logic is attributed to its confrontation with two international orders/codes: the legal order and the political order. The paper engages in legal semiotics as methodology to decode legal text and discover a deep structure that sustains networks of codes, according to which text is interpreted. Through the semiotic examination of three sets of key concepts “permitted” and “prohibited,” “threat of use” and “possession of the weapon,” and “state survival,” the paper shows the ICJ’s confrontation with two orders/codes and eventual prioritization of the political order over the international legal order. The analysis of the opinion based on legal semiotics indicates an intimate and inseparable relationship between state practice and international law, which must be disentangled for the sake of the rule of law. (shrink)
The history and effects of British imperialism in Fiji created a model for analyzing the semiotics of cultural identity. Following the acquisition of land in Fiji, the British recruited impoverished people from India and relocated them as indentured servants to do work on sugar cane plantations that natives refused to do. When Fiji became independent nearly 100 years later, the island nation had nearly equal populations of native Fijians and people of Indian decent. Fiji experienced three military coupes (...) between 1987 and 2000 while the two ethnic and culturally distinct groups competed for jobs and political power. As a small, island nation, identity-based communication in Fiji represents a microcosm of other more complex multicultural societies. This study examines the semiotics of cultural identity among the people of Fiji. (shrink)
Since 1984 when J. Lotman’s article “On semiosphere” was published, this concept has been moving from one terminological field to another. In the disciplinary terminological field of the Tartu–Moscow School semiotics of culture, ‘semiosphere’ is connected with terms ‘language — secondary modelling system — text — culture’. From interdisciplinary terminological fields, the associations either with biosphere and noosphere, or with logosphere, are more important. As a metadisciplinary concept, semiosphere belongs to the methodology of culture studies and is associated with (...) the concepts of holism and the part and the whole. In this context, semiosphere marks the complementarity of disciplines studying culture, the movement towards the creation of general culture studies and “understanding methodology”. On the background of the contemporary trends of science it has to be remembered that semiosphere is simultaneously an object- and a metaconcept. The dynamism of culture as a research object forces science to search for new description languages but the new description languages in turn influence the cultural dynamics as they offer new possibilities for self-description. Often, however, from a historical perspective, a new description language is nothing but a methodological translation. Thus also the term semiosphere joins together several concepts that are related to semiotics of culture and that have gained new relevance on the background of the culture’s developmental dynamics. The concept of semiosphere brings semiotics of culture again into contact with its history, as it also brings applicational cultural analysis into contact with the history of culture and with the newest phenomena in culture. These contacts determine the place of the semiotics of culture among the sciences studying culture. (shrink)
Cenoscopy and ideoscopy -- The turn to ideoscopy -- Nothing is certain -- The way of ideas -- Nominalism versus realism -- The interplay of objects in thought and things in the world -- Sensation cenoscopically considered -- The semiotics of sensation -- The semiosic structure of the sensory manifold -- Semiopsis beyond perception -- Descartes and Poinsot : retrospect and prospect.
The metaphor of parasites or parasitism has dominated literary critical discourse since the 1970s, prominent examples being Michel Serres in France and J. Hillis Miller in America. In their writings the relationship between text and paratext, literature and criticism, is often likened to that between host and parasite, and can be therefore deconstructed. Their writings, along with those by Derrida, Barthes, and Thom, seem to be suggesting the possibility of a semiotics of parasitism. Unfortunately, none of these writers has (...) drawn enough on the biological foundation of parasitism. Curiously, even in biology, parasitism is already a metaphor through which the signified of an ecological phenomenon involving two organisms is expressed by the signifier of “[eating] food at another’s [side] table”. This paper will make some preliminary remarks on semiotics of parasitism, based on the notions of Umwelt (Jakob von Uexküll) and structural coupling (Maturana and Varela). It will look into the phenomenon of co-evolutionary process in community ecology. With reference to empirical history, the project will briefly surveythe literary and medical praxis of the 17th century England where large number of creative writings referred to the phenomenon of parasitism, which was deeply embedded in religious practice (e.g., the Eucharist) and political life (e.g., the courtier ecology in monarchy) of the times. Finally, it will touch upon the possible ‘parasitic’ relationship between language and biology. (shrink)
Semiotic and linguistic studies of the 20th century have been important mostly in two senses — (1) they have opened a road for comparative research on the origin and development of language and other systems of signs adding a new dimension to the history of culture; (2) they have shown a possibility of uniting different fields of humanities around semiotics suggesting a way to trespass separation and atomisation of different trends in investigating culture. In the 21st century one (...) may hope for closer integration of semiotics and exact and natural sciences. The points of intersection with the mathematical logic, computer science and information theory that already exist might lead to restructuring theoretical semiotics making it a coherent and methodologically rigid discipline. At the same time, the continuation of neurosemiotic studies promises a breakthrough in understanding those parts of the work of the brain that are most intimately connected to culture. From this point of view semiotics may play an outstanding role in the synthesis of biological science and humanities. In my mind that makes it a particularly important field of future research. (shrink)
Among the national scientific groups, it was the Prague Linguistic Circle that had the most decisive affinity to the work of the Moscow-Tartu school. This paper examines the work of one of the most tireless contemporary Czech interpreters of the Lutman school, Vladimir Macura (1945-1999), whose work on Czech literary and historical texts are outstanding examples of the reverberation of Lotmanian semiotics of culture in the Czech Republic. This is particularly the case in Macura's reevaluations of the texts of (...) the Czech National Revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, especially in two books, Znamení zrodu (Signs of Birth) (1995) and Český sen (The Czech Dream) (1998). In these works Macura looked at this critical period in Czech national history as a multi-layered semiotic text in both the verbal and visual spheres. The present paper is an attempt at an exploration of Macura's treatment in this manner of the following: the Czech language, the city of Prague, the question of Czech national self-identification in general and as part of a larger category, the world of the Slavs. An important aspect of this project is an examination of Macura's exploration of the value functions of symbolic animals and plants in Czech Revival culture, and its relation to the axiology of Czech (Slavic) cultural identity. The paper is dedicated to Macura's memory. (shrink)
The paper focuses on a particular episode in the (pre)history of semiotics in the USSR in the 1920s–1930s. At that time, an attempt to create an “integral” science was made by linguists, among whom N. Ja. Marr was one of the best-known. Several semantic laws formulated by Marr could be either reformulated in order to be applied to other disciplines (literary studies, anthropology, archeology, biology) or “proved” by the facts or discoveries drawn from them. Another “proof” that these (...) linguistic theories were correct consisted in the possibility of transferring the corresponding models and schemes from one field of knowledge to another: at that epoch the refusal to make a clear methodological separation between disciplines which were primarily concerned with “matter” and those that were more “spiritual” was an important tendency for scholars both in the Soviet Union and in other countries. (shrink)
The article examines the implicit tradition of deep semiotics in Russia initiated by Gustav Shpet, a Russian philosopher of language. Shpet’s semiotic approach was developed synchronously with the major lines of European and American semiotics, but has not been sufficiently known or studied. The recent publication of previously unknown papers by Shpet makes this Russian philosopher an advanced fi gure on the Russian semiotic scene. Shpet was one of the first Russian scholars to use the term ‘semiotics’, (...) by which he meant a “general ontological study of signs”. Shpet used this term in his work History as a Problem of Logic as early as in 1916. Shpet’s main work on semiotics, the book Language and Sense, traced back the origins of semiotic thinking and laid the foundations for new semiotics, by which he meant a science of understanding signs. It is here that Shpet spoke of the ontological study of a sign, calling this study semiotics, or else characterics, and raising the issue of the semiotic mind. (shrink)
This paper examines the translation of literary terminology as cultural sign in the selected versions of the History of Chinese Literature in the Anglophone world. It argues that classical Chinese literary terminology with its rich connotations and strong prescriptiveness as „symbol‟ in semiotics, holds great difficulty for translators and scholars. Its inherent social and cultural elements in determining the meaning of these terms cannot be transferred across cultures, thus causing problems such as „neutralization‟ either in free or literally (...) translation or transliteration of these terms. The paper points out that an ideal way out for translation of classical Chinese literary terms should be transliteration coupled with proper notes. Although not qualified as translation in the strict sense, transliteration could, in some way, remind the readers of the heterogeneity of the term, thus offsetting the negative effect by the “neutralization” of the term. It could also guarantee the term‟s independency with the ultimate aim to make the term accepted by and integrated into the culture of the new land. (shrink)
Kevelson remains an important figure in legal semiotics, a co-founder, along with Bernard Jackson, of the International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law, and of course a valuable and seminal commentator on Peirce in the legal domain. This paper will examine her claim, that through his collaboration with and influence on Oliver Holmes, Peirce should be regarded as a foundational figure in a history of legal realism and modern jurisprudence, and that a legal semiotic can be identified (...) in and not only extrapolated from his seminal writings. This paper will contend that the relationship between Peirce and Holmes should be seen as perplexed and disputatious, rather than close and directly influential, as Kevelson argues. However, regardless of its limitations, Kevelson’s historical inquiry helps provide the ground for a contemporary and historical account of the full picture of a Peircean based legal semiotic and jurisprudence. (shrink)
The early Greek Stoics were the first philosophers to recognize the object of normal human perception as predicative or propositional in nature. Fundamentally we do not perceive qualities or things, but situations and things happening, facts. To mark their difference from Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics adopted phantasia as their word for perception.